Wednesday, April 20, 2011

home on the hill

I'm playing catch up this week after a wonderful, restorative, energizing conference/retreat this past weekend where I studied sandplay therapy, a Jungian-based way of working with clients developed by Dora Kalff. I've utilized this method in my work for about 17 years now, and like classical horsemanship, it is a lifelong journey of learning, experiencing, and learning more.

On Saturday while I was at the conference we had a large number of tornadoes and "super cells" roll through our state, and while November Hill remained safe, a horse farm not 20 minutes away was devastated: indoor arena, barns, home, equipment shed, all destroyed. Tragically, as of yesterday, 20 horses died as a result of injuries sustained during the tornado.

Right now, my herd are grazing happily in the front pasture, meandering from sunshine to shade, allowing the cool breeze that's blowing to help with black gnat control. I feel incredibly fortunate that we are not picking up the pieces of a fragmented farm, and of our hearts, today.

I took photos of three figures I bought at the conference. The wonderful archetypal artist, Georgia Mann, graciously agreed to send me a box of miniatures that I could sell during our sandplay weekend. I think you'll enjoy seeing the three I chose. (or who chose me)

Until my camera is fixed or recharged (something weird happened to it yesterday and it's currently unusable!) I'll send you over to our sandplay association website where you can see the figures that are left. There are also 11 beautiful necklaces remaining and I feel lucky to have the energy of these pieces in my sandplay room until they find permanent homes.

I'll be back to the usual routine soon.

20 comments:

Kate said...

So glad you're all OK - to lose horses that way must be devastating.

Grey Horse Matters said...

What a horrible way to lose horses they must be devastated. Unfortunately, the one thing we can't control is the weather. I read last week that in west Texas ( i think) they had so many raging fires that everything was burning and the people reported seeing horse running who were on fire. It sometimes seems to me this weather is too extreme lately.

I'm not much into the sandplay stuff, I'm sure it works and is interesting work but I don't really understand it. The figures on the site are nice though. Glad you had an interesting time at your seminar. Not to be glib, but over the weekend the only sand play we had was when my almost 2 yr. old granddaughter thought it would be fun to roll around in the indoor and throw the sand around. We had to hose her down when she got in the house.

ponymaid said...

billie, the weather seems to be savage everywhere this spring. I am glad to hear you all survived the onslaught but sorry to hear about your neighbours. I would love to try some sand play but it would have to thaw first and then dry out from all the rain and snow. Those figures look quite tasty...

billie said...

Thanks, Kate. It is so sad to read the updates.

billie said...

Arlene, thank you.

Re: the sand play - arena style - that is therapeutic as well!! :)

billie said...

Sheaffer, I think for you I would do a sort of gastronomical gourmet therapy. Instead of miniature figures I would have samples of many many foodstuffs.

The sheer joy in a donkey with shelves and shelves of things to sample - I am sure it would be tx for both of us! :)

Michelle said...

When I heard about those storms, my stomach dropped. I can't imagine losing 1 horse in that way, let alone 20. Those poor people. I'm glad you and your gang were all safe! I'm heading over to check out the sandplay now, as I have no idea what that even is!

billie said...

There's a page that describes it over there, Michelle, hope you found it!

jme said...

wow, that's so scary about the tornadoes. i'm glad you all are safe, but so sorry for the others. that's one of my worst nightmares.

sad to say i don't know anything about sandplay. sounds like something i will have to research. (and i think my mother has her own version of sandplay, taking hours to make patterns with the arena drag. very zen ;-)

the figures are lovely. the crow healer caught my eye, as i've just been studying an ancient work depicting a myth about birds who carry departed souls into the next world past the monsters that guard the entrance... i'm sure the intention of the piece was different, but the image is so similar :-)

billie said...

j, sandplay is based on Jungian psychology, so I suspect it would be right up your alley. Your idea about the crow healer piece is very much relevant and would be a part of the "collective unconscious" archetypal energy the piece might take on in someone's sand tray.

The piece is still available, so if it moves you and you might want to purchase it, let me know. I'm eager to find good homes for Georgia's pieces - I'd take them all if I could!!

Máire said...

I know about sandplay, but have not trained in it. It always sounds so very interesting - particularly the Dora Kalff approach.

Those tornados sound so terrifying, thankfully not something we experience over here.

billie said...

Maire, I'm not surprised you know of sandplay - I would have guessed it might be something you would be interested in!

The tornadoes are so unpredictable - and can touch down in such tiny areas and then pop back up again. I was in the barn with the horses one time when a tornado came very close to our farm. The sound was like a train roaring past. The horses were not spooked at all - we stood quietly and watched together as it moved by us.

jme said...

from the little i've read about sandplay, it seems really interesting. i'd love to see it in action :-)

i didn't realize the figures were actually used in the sandplay... are they meant to be used together - are there a sort of set of figures or common symbols you normally work with?

billie said...

Sandplay is in a way like a waking dream - the client has trays of sand (very specific sizes and depths) which form a visual field - a container - in which the client is free to choose any of a very many miniatures on shelves that represent everything you can imagine in daily life - trees, people, vehicles, animals, the elements, gods/goddesses, etc. There is also water available so the client can make a wet tray - the client can use figures, or not, and what happens is that in the 'free and protected space' of the tray and the room with the experienced therapist holding the energy and creating safety, the client can tap into an unconscious process that helps heal internal struggles symbolically - much like dreams do, only in the sand it is not dependent on sleep cycle, etc. but on the therapist's ability to hold the space while the client does the work. It is a wonderful therapy, imo. Very powerful and life-changing.

I will have to take pictures of my collection of miniatures when my camera is working again - but it's true that some of the work is done with the sand itself - there are no rules, no right way. The unconscious leads the client on the path to healing and integration.

jme said...

that sounds amazing. :-)

billie said...

It is! It was after doing my sandplay process back in the late 90s that I actually finished the first book.

jme said...

i'd love to give it a try sometime. you're right - it sounds right up my alley :-)

billie said...

My suggestion to anyone looking to do sandplay is to find someone who has studied Dora Kalff's method and also done his/her own process in the sand. It makes a big difference in the work.

Victoria Cummings said...

I was so worried about you guys when I saw those tornados ripping through North Carolina. Thankfully, they took a different path away from you, but it's so tragic what happened. In all the places I've lived, growing up with tornados in Illinois and then with wildfires and earthquakes in California, I am always stunned by the destruction that Mother Nature can create. One minute, everything is fine and the next, your whole world can be reeling. It makes me thankful every day when things are simply okay.

Sandplay is very powerful. I did it when I was living in San Diego with a friend who is a talented therapist. I'm sure that you are very good at it, and that everyone who was in your workshop found it very valuable.

billie said...

Thank you, Victoria - I'm glad to hear that you too did a sandplay process and that it was a powerful force in your life. California is probably the state that has the most sandplay therapists of all - our conference speaker/trainer flew out from CA to do our weekend.